The most serious health threat to dogs this year is a big one. Obesity.
Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention –“Over half of the nation’s dogs and cats are now overweight or obese…it literally is a growing problem.” The Association estimates that 54% of dogs in the U.S. are heavier than their recommended weight.
PetPlan–The insurance company says the most claims it gets come from conditions related to obesity. That includes:
- Digestive problems, stomach upsets, vomiting and diarrhea
- Bad hips caused by extra pounds that lead to extra stress on joints
- Injuries to ligaments, also caused by carrying more weight than recommended
- Heart problems due to higher blood pressure
- Urinary infections because a dog’s larger size makes it harder to reach body parts that need to be cleaned
- Some types of cancer, which have been linked to being overweight
- Increase of Type 2 Diabetes cases, also related to weight issues
- Decreased resistance to viral and bacterial infections
PetMD – This website is “Vet Authored and Vet Approved.” PetMD says pet obesity is underdiagnosed and undertreated. Veterinarians say most humans with overweight dogs don’t understand that their dog has a problem that could lead to serious, and expensive, health conditions and diseases.
Who’s most at risk?
- Senior dogs
- Certain breeds, including Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, Dalmatians, Golden Retrievers, Labs, Rottweilers and Shetland Sheepdogs
How can you tell if a dog is overweight?
- Here are two charts (one and two) with healthy weight ranges for different dog breeds. Ask your veterinarian if you’re unsure about the right weight for your dog’s breed and age.
- If your dog is the about the right weight, you should be able to feel the dog’s ribs and see an indentation or hourglass shape at the waist.
What are the top causes of obesity?
- Food choices and not enough activity are the two major causes of obesity.
What can you do for an overweight dog?
- Obesity is 100% preventable. And diseases related to obesity are far easier to prevent than to treat. Here are things you can do.
- Ask your vet about the best food to use
- Measure food and don’t give more than your vet recommends
- Exercise fido everyday
- Don’t over treat
- Use playtime as a reward instead of treats
- Keep track of your dog’s weight and have regular weigh-ins